World Religions Lecture 2
• Western folk concept of religion: WhatArthur Giel meant was there is an idea and concept of
religion and there are ideas and beliefs that people do. Our concepts don’t always relate to
whats in the world. Theres a difference.
• Folk: infused with western idea and cultures. Key ideas: supervision involved management of
ideas. Involves it with institutions of religions such as, a church, mosque and temple. Or it
could either be a cooperation. Has some sort of framework of religion..a belief in something
like a divine being. Scripture is a scared information either oral or written down. Our idea of
religion traces back to Europe.
• Divine being has characteristics of being monotheistic (singular) particularly in the West.
Exclude polytheistic religions in the West. Very powerful omnipotent.All knowing. Perfected
being, all good.Apparent an authority figure power relation, hierarchy. They are supernaturals
they exhibit a form of transcendence (to go beyond).
• Transcendence: off the map we cant relate to them. They think of them being far removed us.
But the opposite thinking is to think the divine being is within us and is imminent.
• Taoism and Tao religion in eastAsia
• Religion phenomena's and the point of listing them is to get us to figure out what they share in
common.All diverse phenomena impossible to link them all together
• Shukyo: its Japanese and Japanese interact with the western world so they came up with a
word to discuss religion.
• Politically, socially, legally come into play when talking about religion. For example, taxation
there is some tax exemption.Alcoholics anonymous is a meeting to maintain sobriety, they are
confidential a sacred, private setting. The meeting is similar to a confession with a priest.
• Key themes and terms for Western history: Roman (Christianity) - Religio Superstitio.
Religio = true and Superstitio = false.
• Theres sacred and profane things (non-sacred)
• Monotheism: Christianity, Judaism, Islam. Sacred.
• Animism/Paganism: anyone who isn’t monotheistic. Secular = non-religious parts of our lives,
nations state, individual, private
• Religion is about belief having some type of creed
• Religion as “cultural universe”
• Primitives/Savages: has some kind of religion
• Substantive definition of religion: focuses on what religion is and seeks to define some
• Functional definition: see what religion does, seeks to talk about religion of a function of
something. Serves some type of role what kind of function it has
• Experimental definition: subsection of functional
• Tylor theory of animism: religion is a belief in spirits. Religion can be a religion of humanities
and ethical code but not a belief in spirits. So in this case his definition cannot be universally
applicable. • Tylor is a classic armchair scholar did all their theorizing in their personal library therefore, it
can be exclusivist.
• Exclusivist key issue with substantive definitions
• Durkhiem he is a sociologist, has scared things that are special and different from everyday
practices.Adheres with the social system of beliefs and practices Functional definition. Why it
could be limited is because its too inclusive
• Feeling of absolute independence. Its limitations is being absolute dependent on your parents.
• “Religion is a system of symbols which acts to establish powerful, pervasive, and long lasting
moods and motivations in Men by formulating conceptions of a general order of existence and
clothing these conceptions with such an aura of factuality uniquely realistic.” -Geertz
• Asystem of symbols: more than one idea of something, creates experience and thoughts.
Symbols mobilize us and make us act.
• Morass: a confusing situation, FOB, lost in this intellectual mud, one possible solution is
family resemblance (analogy).
• Religion is not a entity but a claim
World Religions Lecture 3
• How many religions are there? Why is the author suggesting we can’t answer that question is
because are we talking sub-type or umbrella religions (Baptist Christian vs. Christian), difficult
to trace back to history, if people come up with new religion. The term religion is ambiguous
• The word scripture itself is also ambiguous and complex, doesn’t just refer to one thing
• What does it mean to say one person is more religious than others? Why we can’t answer this
is because what is “Religiousness” there is no scale to measure it.Aproblematic question.
Example) a person is a Christian, if they attend church to prove they are religious but
somebody could still be religious without attending church.
• Apocalypse: revelation
• Scripture is typically known as a written document but it can also be an oral text
• Most written text were originally oral traditions, that were later written down
• For example, the Hindu tradition, prefer oral form, transmitted from one Brahmin priest to its
student, we tend to think written is more accurate however, there are counter arguments for that
• If there is literature and documents held at a high regard could be a candidate for scripture
• Primary vs. Secondary Text. For Jewish Primary = Hebrew bible (5 books of Moses)
Secondary = Mishnah (Oral Torah) - > Talmud
• Scripture if often related to a unified, divine, holy, sacred document
• Its considered sacred because a community thinks it is
• Scripture relates to many things that are grouped together i.e) the idea of a heavenly book
which could be related to many different things
• Key one: book of works or book of deeds/actions, especially when referring to the after life • If this book is sacred and has rules (Authority) then we should follow it
• Function of scripture: as holy writ (Christian expression) the document is written and is
manifested in the world, carries the sense of absolute authority
• Scripture as a spoken word: orality, aural = heard, these two sides are important when it comes
• The term Qur’an is now known as a recitation
• Meditatio = how they meditated was reading scripture at loud.. in some Eastern traditions they
have some chanting of mantras
• Persian religion is the first to talk about judgment and bring in heaven and hell concepts
• Scripture has a social function a communal level i.e) ritual, rites of passage
• It can be used on a more individualistic life and then gain a more intimate level with the divine
• Magical and superstitious ideas can be used to ward off the devil, demons or evil spirits
• Scripture being a divine document, its words uphold some type of power
• Scripture considered authoritative because of the relationship with the divine thus, it must be
• Sacrality of scripture: qualitative difference between different types of documents
• Most scriptural documents are collected over time
• Scripture has this idea that it has been around forever because its connection with the divine
• Scripture has seeped in through other parts of cultures very communicative
World Religions Lecture 4
Jewish Traditions: Overview and focus onAncient Context
Origins of the Jews:
• Themes of wandering exile; homeland and homecoming
• Ca. 1800 BCE: traditional date ofAbraham
• Key points: covenant, circumcision
• What were the terms of the contract?
• Isaac and Ishmael (NAWR-JT, 78)
• Ca. 1250 BCE: traditional date of Exodus
• Key points: ten commandments; exile; freedom; homecoming; wandering; Moses “sees” but
does not return to Canaan
“According to tradition....”
• Land of Canaan
• Jacob becomes Israel (his name of name of people – Israelites)
• Burning bush; warnings to Pharaoh fall on deaf ears; freedom; 10 commandments; “40-year”
wandering; renewal of contract
• Homecoming (again) in Canaan • “The forty years is almost certainly the Bible’s way of signaling a very long time, perhaps a
generation.And it is not even certain that the exodus from Egypt every took place, or that, if it
did, it involved the whole people; some may have never left the land. Moreover, the conquest
of the land probably took many generations during which Israelites and Canaanites lived cheek
by jowl. But the Bible’s need for dramatic migration trumped historical reality.” (NAWR-JT,
ca. 1000 BCE: Jerusalem = capital of Israelite kingdom under King David
ca. 950 BCE: first temple (King Solomon)
928 BCE: kingdom divided into Northern (Israel) and Southern (Judah)
721 BCE: end of northern kingdom, destroyed byAssyrians
586-539 BCE: first temple destroyed (exile of Israelites in Babylonia – “Babylonian
Writings and Rituals
• TANAKH: Hebrew Bible – composed in First Temple Period, canonized by 90 CE
• Focus: Genesis: the two accounts of creation Reading: p. 72 NAWR-JT
Focus: Genesis: the two accounts of creation Reading: p. 72 NAWR-JT
“The Bible really contains two accounts of creation, in chapters 1 and 2. The first describes
creation starting with the physical universe, then moving up a great chain of being from lower
forms of life to animals, and culminating with man and woman [read Gen 1:27]…. In the second
account, before the creation of the plants, man, here calledAdam, is created, followed by plants,
the animals, and only then woman, taken fromAdam’s rib, to beAdam’s companion.”
Differences between two accounts in Genesis (and possible reason why)
• First account is comprehensive (created equal); second account is androcentric
• Name of God in first is Elohim; name of God in second is Yawweh
• In first, God is transcendent “hovering above his creation”; in second, God is humanized (he
walks in the Garden of Eden)
• Possible reason: different authors with “different theologies”
Writings and Ritual (continued)
• Key themes: writing and ritual of sacrifice “blood and the book, sacrifice and
Scripture” (NAWR-JT, 47)
• Ritual becomes centralized in Temple
• 586 BCE: Israelite religion -> Judaism = “a portable religion” Jews and Judaism
Timeline for Second Temple Judaism:
538 BCE: Persians (Cyrus the Great) conquerAssyrians and end the Babylonian Exile (not
520 BCE: Construction of Second Temple begins
312 BCE: Seleucid Empire (Greek) established in Mesopotamia
167 BCE: Maccabean Revolt (Jews in control of Judaea)
63 BCE: Judaea is under Roman rule
66-73 CE: Jewish Revolt
70 CE: Romans destroy the Second Temple and burn Jerusalem
The Diaspora and ItsAftermath
• Temple religion disappears; animal sacrifice replaced by textual activities
• Precedent set by Babylonian Jews
• “But Judaism now became solely a religion of the book, with blood preserved only in text and
memory… The genius of the rabbis who composed the Talmud… was to preserve the memory
of the Temple and its rituals in textual form and to make studying of these rituals equivalent to
performing them.” (NAWR-JT, 49)
What is Judaism? Or, a summary of Jewish traditions
• Scriptures were foundational for Christian and Islamic traditions
• The tradition is the “sum total” of various sets of principles: “rational and irrational,
philosophical and mystical, legal and legendary, of this world and spiritual….” (NAWR-JT, 55)
• Bible is a collection of different types of writing
• Talmud is a called a “sea”
• Israel was conceived as a “new nation” – according to tradition, descended from slaves
(analogy with themes in Bible of younger son being preferred, “God prefers this youngest and
humblest of nations for his very own.” (NAWR-JT, 62)
World Religions Lecture 5
Prince of Egypt Movie
• Two men-brothers and princes of the greatest empire on earth. One will someday rule Egypt.
The other will become one of the greatest heroes of all time
• "My son, I have nothing I can give, but this chance that you may live."
• With these words, Yocheved, a Hebrew mother, places her infant son in a basket and sets him
adrift on the Nile River.
• The basket floats near the royal palace, where it is spotted by the Queen. She marvels at the
beautiful infant boy inside. She names the baby Moses and adopts him as her own. • Moses is raised in the opulence of the royal palace along with Rameses, whom he believes to
be his older brother.
• One day as the two careen through the city streets in their chariots, they accidentally destroy a
nearby temple, angering their father, the Pharaoh Seti
• He is particularly disappointed in Rameses, whose conduct as the future Pharaoh is held up to
greater scrutiny. Moses immediately takes the blame for the incident and pleads with his father
not to hold Rameses responsible.
• Moses discovers that Tzipporah has escaped and he follows her through the Hebrew settlement
of Goshen where he comes upon his true siblings, Miriam andAaron
• Miriam reveals to Moses the truth about his identity, that he is the son of a Hebrew slave.
• As the years pass, Moses and Tzipporah fall in love and build a contented life as humble